08 November 2013

7 Quick Takes, Family Edition

1. This week, I made a quick trip up to my parents' house in PA. My mom has a (very painful)herniated disc, so my sister and I cooked some meals and I took them up, leaving the kiddos in the care of hubby. I can't remember the last time I drove any significant distance without at least one child in the car--and most often, two children who consider the car to be the best place to hone their apparently much-valued bickering skills. Three plus hours alone in the car, listening to whatever music or podcasts I wanted? Bliss. Maybe my parents will need some more help in a week or two?

2. Speaking of which, my mom has been mostly flat on her back for the better part of three weeks, unable to do any cleaning or tidying up. My dad also has some trouble getting around. I, on the other hand, have no mobility problems to speak of, *and* recently hired a cleaning lady to come every other week. My parents' house STILL looks cleaner and (for sure) tidier than mine. I will now place the blame for this on our darling children (just ignore that derisive laughter from my sister, who stayed with us for a time before we had children).

3. So is it petty to wonder whose food my parents will like more, that cooked by me or by my sister? Maybe I should have given my parents a rating card for each dish, and not told them who cooked what. Except the meatloaf I made kind of fell apart, so after being frozen and reheated, it will likely end up being tasty meat crumbles. Wendy wins again--drat that chicken a la king!

4. Back to the appalling state of our abode--Monday is when I truly realized that tidiness vs. messiness is an inborn trait. My oldest is messy, and sees no problem with it. Asking her to clean up her room (or, when she was younger, her toys) is tantamount to torture, as far as she is concerned. I'm convinced that she really sees no reason for it. "It's fine!" she will say, as I look at her supposedly clean room, and point at obvious pieces of trash on the floor--right next to her trash can.

On the other hand, Monday afternoon, I said to my youngest daughter, "Your friend is coming over tomorrow--can you pick up your toys in the family room? Then later we can clean your room." (She's five, so still qualifies for parental assistance in room cleaning.) She happily (!) cleaned up her toys, then said "I'm going to clean my room now!" and disappeared for a good half-hour. When I checked her room, it was tidy, nothing on the floor, and she had even had a go at making her bed (difficult because it's a loft bed). I'd say it's amazing what the promise of a playdate can do, except that I have tried the same strategy with my oldest and still gotten moans, groans, and maybe one clear spot on the floor where her clean laundry used to be.

5. One of the perks of going up to PA was the chance to stop at the local tea shop. After reading this article about pesticides, plastic teabags possibly leaching chemicals, etc., I have sworn off buying more tea at Teavana, which is the only place I've found here that sells loose tea. If any fellow NoVa residents know of a locally owned tea shop, please let me know! But I don't know that anything can beat the blend I'm currently in love with, an organic black tea mixed with coconut. Yum.

6. In the past year or so, I've really become interested in people's stories. Rather late in the game, I realized that if I ask the right questions and engage with other people, they will tell me the most fascinating things. This is in stark contrast with my modus operandi since childhood--when the stories in books were far more interesting than actual living, breathing people.

Last week, I was sitting on the playground while my younger one played, with my Kindle in hand. A young woman sat down near me. I had seen her briefly the week before, when (who I thought was) her son played tag with my daughter. She struck up a conversation with me, and instead of giving her noncommittal answers and going back to my book, I asked her where she was from. And that led to a very interesting story: a young woman from Jordan, who had come to the U.S. to visit relatives (the boy was actually her cousin) and decided to stay and get her nursing degree at the local community college. She already had her bachelor's degree plus a master's in social work, and had worked in her field, including traveling around the world doing music therapy for an international NGO, for nearly a decade. But she had always wanted to be a nurse; her parents had discouraged her from majoring in nursing when she was younger, because the long hours would make it difficult for her to get married and have children. Now, she was still unmarried and without children, but she was in the United States and an adult, so why not pursue her dream? She was eager to finish her studies and get back to Jordan, though, because she disliked the NoVa weather and missed her family. All this from a random woman on the local playground. And I would have missed it if I hadn't paid attention and listened.

7. And here's a different take on pursuing your dream: Phil Vischer, the founder of the hugely popular Christian cartoons, VeggieTales, now speaks and writes about what he learned when his company disintegrated around him. What happens, he asks, when your dreams die? Listening to this, I was struck again on how truly following Christ can sometimes be the opposite of what culture tells us is important. "Follow your dreams," says the American culture, and people arrive from all over the world to do just that. But Christians are to be about the business of following Christ. How countercultural can you get?

Here's a short version of Phil's story, though I find the graphic shenanigans every time they make an edit annoying. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJw_njstsNg

And here's a talk he did at Taylor University, which I found funny and thought-provoking.

For more Quick Takes, go to Conversion Diary.


Wendy said...

Dude... I cooked that chicken a la king after work on a Tuesday (when Bain works late), with the phone tucked under my chin talking to Mom, Zeke at my feet with every step I took (CHICKEN!!!! I SMELL CHICKEN!!!!! MUST HAVE CHICKEN!!!!!!!!) and with Taylor in the basement screaming that the tv would not turn off, and refusing to come talk to me; rather, she continued to just yell louder and louder.

If it is edible, I'll be surprised.

jen said...

i also learned in my husband's first parish in lake wobegon (west-central minnesota) that everyone has a story and i totally loved listening to them! it's been 8 years since we moved and i really miss my norwegian bachelor farmers.